RELIGION: America sacramentalizes guns to God as God’s gift for the good. This is heresy.

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RELIGION:

(RNS] — Recent high-profile murders in Georgia and Wisconsin prove that America’s obsession with guns is outpacing the law’s ability to protect its citizens.

In Georgia we saw three white men chase Ahmaud Abery, a Black jogger who they believed was burglary. The chase ended with gunshots and murder. Although the vigilantes presented themselves as heroes in making a citizen’s arrest it was a clear case of racial profiling without any evidence.

There was no immediate need, no crime, and no evidence of theft. They intervened and saved lives. They could have reported their suspicions to the police and let him go to the criminal justice process.

Instead they created a problem and then claimed self-defense when a victim tried to defend themselves.

In Wisconsin, Kyle Rittenhouse has been labeled a hero because he wandered the streets of Kenosha at age 17 with an AR-15-style semiautomatic rifle, illegally purchased for him because he was underage, to protect property from those protesting the shooting of a Black man, Jacob Blake, by a white Kenosha police officer.

He was warmly received by police who should have told the man to go home. The aspiring security guard instead got into a fight that saw two men killed and one more injured. He was deemed self-defense by the jury and is now free to go.

RELATED: Kyle Rittenhouse, whiteness and a divinely ordained license to kill

Rittenhouse was not even prosecuted for possession of a dangerous firearm because the judge ruled that the semiautomatic was exempt under the Wisconsin law forbidding minors from carrying dangerous weapons because the barrel was more than 16 inches long.

Legal professionals note that Rittenhouse could have been found guilty under the judge’s interpretation, if he had brass hands, but not a semiautomatic. Legal scholars will decide if the law was poorly written and poorly interpreted.

The judge forbade the use of “victims”, but allowed them to be called looters or rioters, arsonists, or any other derogatory term. This seems absurd, as none of the shooters were ever charged with any crime.

Meanwhile, 19-year-old Dominick Black, who bought the rifle for Rittenhouse, has been charged with two counts of providing a firearm to a minor, resulting in death. It is not clear how Rittenhouse’s conviction will impact Black’s trial.

There are many similarities between the cases in Georgia, Wisconsin and elsewhere.

First, both shooters saw their role as heroes in protecting others from criminals.

Vigilante justice has been adored in Hollywood movies. Hollywood has instilled it into the American male psyche that real men have an obligation to kill and beat up bad guys. When used against lawbreakers, violence is acceptable.

This Hollywood is not “liberal”, as conservatives have condemned it. This is Hollywood that recognizes that there are movies that depict heroes who take the law into their own hands when it fails to address crime in the criminal justice system.

Liberals should support the prosecution and arrest of vandals/looters who use legitimate demonstrations to cover their crimes.

Travis McMichael (from left); his father, Gregory McMichael; and William “Roddie” Bryan were convicted of murdering Ahmaud Arbery. (Glynn County Detention Center via AP, File)

Second. Rittenhouse and the Georgia men thought that they should get a gun instead of looking for an alternative. Instead of reaching for their guns, they should have reached to their phones.

The Georgian men should have called 911 to report their suspicions. They did so in the past. They could have offered to go with the suspect until they arrived at the police station. Before approaching the jogger, they could have sought advice from the police.

They did nothing of the above. They instead grabbed their guns, and they went Rambo.

Rittenhouse could also have used his cell phone to take photos of vandalism and other crimes and then gave the images to the police for use in court.

Instead, he used a straw-purchased gun to get through a chaotic situation without any training.

Third: These cases demonstrate the toxic mixture of inadequacies in laws governing guns and citizen arrest.

The U.S. Supreme Court currently examines a New York law that restricts handgun possession outside of the home. Although the judges seem ready to repeal the law, some conservative “originalists”, who argue that the Constitution should be read using the views and founding fathers of the Constitution, say the law is valid because there were laws that regulated the carrying of guns in public during Colonial times.

Laws that cover citizen arrest must be repealed, or severely restricted. These actions are too dangerous. To protect yourself, the first rule of self defense is to avoid trouble.

Now, Rittenhouse is out of prison. The next step could be confrontations between armed vigilantes or armed demonstrators. While the former will claim they are protecting the public, the latter will be ready to defend themselves.

RELATED: Being a good guy with a gun is what God wants, say ‘sheepdog’ evangelicals

Finally, racism played an important role in both of these cases.

It is difficult to imagine Arbery being pursued if Arbery were white or that Rittenhouse wouldn’t have been confronted by Kenosha police, if at all, if Rittenhouse were a Black teenager using a semiautomatic.

In other words, the killings wouldn’t have occurred if the races had been reversed.

America sacramentalizes guns. They are God’s gift for the good and just to preserve our way of living. This is heresy.

According to the Brady Center, 316 people are shot every day in the United States, of whom 106 die. One hundred and thirty-four are shot intentionally on a daily basis, of whom 39 die. Each day, self-inflicted gunshots account for 74 shootings, with only 10 people in those cases surviving. Accidental shootings involve 91 people, one of whom dies every day.

This high price is for our obsession with guns. Instead, we should pay attention to Isaiah who says during Advent that “they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into cutting hooks

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